Section of Alum Creek highway to reopen

By Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

April 12, 2014

ALUM CREEK — Lincoln County’s legislative delegation is receiving credit for plans to re-open a heavily-traveled Alum Creek roadway within the next two weeks.

State Delegate Jeff Eldridge, a Democrat, held a meeting last week at Alum Creek Lions Club Park to discuss citizen concerns about Route 8 off of State Route 214. A section of the road was washed away during a rainy, high-water period nearly five months ago.

In the days before the meeting, Eldridge reported he had spoken with former Delegate Greg Butcher, who owns property adjacent to the slip that developed. Eldridge said he was able to work with the b Division of Highways (DOH) and Butcher to negotiate a “reasonable price” so that Butcher’s property can be used for a temporary access road that will reopen Route 8. Alum Creek residents and others use the route that connects Alum Creek in Lincoln County to Tornado and St. Albans in Kanawha.

“A lot of residents were really inconvenienced by this slip,” said Eldridge, who resides on the road himself. Known as Little Coal River Road, other concerns included a possibility that residents along the road could be “land or flood locked” if the water rose onto the road from the Tornado side, he said.

“There was a question about emergency services,” said the delegate. “With that part of the road already closed near Alum Creek, if flood waters got across it on the Tornado end, how were emergency crews like ambulances or fire trucks going to get to the people?”

Butcher said last week that he “wanted to be a good neighbor” and had negotiated in good faith with highways to resolve any issues involved.

DOH closed the roadway on December 6, 2013, citing safety concerns that the pavement would slip over the hill. After agreeing to a deal for the right of way with Butcher, crews are already working on bypassing the troubled section of roadway onto Butcher’s property, said Eldridge. In its entirety, the bypass should take about two weeks to complete, the delegate said.

“This is really good news after a long stretch of time that inconvenienced many people,” said Eldridge. “Let’s hope and pray there are no emergencies that can’t be handled until the bypass is completed.”

Eldridge credited fellow Delegate Josh Barker, also a Democrat, and State Senators Ron Stollings and Art Kirkendoll, Democrats as well, with assisting in bringing the plans to fruition. “I sure can’t claim credit,” said Eldridge when contacted by phone Friday. “We all worked really hard to get this project going. It’s really a necessity for the people in that area.”

Whether the bypass will remain permanent has not been determined, said a DOH spokesman.